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And the Caribbean ignominy continues to chase India

Biswajit Jha

It was déjà vu for Team India as they ignominiously crashed out of the third edition of T20 World Cup. The debacle brings to mind the shameful ODI World Cup defeat at the Caribbean Island three years back, which prompted an unprecedented outcry in the country where cricket is not just a sport but a national sentiment.

For a team which boasts of the best batting line-up in the world, which has an astute leader in MS Dhoni, and which has players who are considered to be T20 experts, thanks to our Indian Premier League, the humiliation is unexpected and shocking.

Since failure is an orphan in India, nobody would take responsibility for this humiliating loss and would rather hope that with time, the cricket-crazy public would forget this disgrace, too. With the 50-over World Cup just a year away, India need to address some serious issues on and off the field if they want to establish their supremacy in the shorter versions of cricket.

Is it the old-disease of faltering in front of the short balls on bouncy-pitches, or the overdose of entertainment during IPL, or the lackadaisical attitudes from the players while playing for their country or the flawed captaincy by MS Dhoni that corroborated to India’s poor show in the prestigious event for two consecutive years?

At a time, when every cricket lover of the country is busy lambasting Dhoni & Co., we at Zeecric.com have decided to bring forth the maladies that currently ail Indian cricket:

IPL Hangover: India won the first ever T20 World Cup in 2007 when a fresh bunch of young players, oozing confidence, were determined to prove their credentials to the world. The team had a new captain in MS Dhoni, who was bold and did not hesitate to take risks even at the most crucial stages of the match.

However, when the Indian Premier League started in 2008, Indian players became a victim of too much cricket. Then came the post-match IPL parties in 2010, which dealt the final blow to the fitness of the Indian players. Even skipper Dhoni admitted after India’s shocking exit from World T20 Championship that the hectic IPL schedule, along with late-night parties, had severely affected some players’ performance. At a time when too much international cricket is being played all over the world, IPL is nothing but a curse (not financially) for the already jaded Indian cricketers.

Faulty Team Selection: India conceded T20 World Cup even before the start of the tournament when they selected a below par team for such a high-profile event. Going by the present form and fitness, Yuvraj Singh should have no place in the team. He struggled during recent tournaments with the bat; even his movements on the field clearly showed that he was not cent percent fit.

There were better batsmen than Rohit Sharma in India, better all-rounders than Ravindra Jadeja and better pacemen than Vinay Kumar. Even the selection of a second spinner in Piyush Chawla cannot be justified as leggie Amit Mishra and left-armer Pragyan Ojha have been far better than Chawla in the recent years.

Short-pitch Ghost: From the time India started competing on the International stage, they have never been comfortable against fast and short-pitched deliveries, especially on bouncy pitches. Despite having a lot of high-talk, in ground reality, there was no substantial effort on the part of the cricket administrators in India to plug this hole.

Growing up on the sub-continental low bounce tracks, Indian batsmen generally find it tough to handle the short-pitch stuff. India did well against the South African pace attack at St Lucia where the bounce was on the lower side.

But once they were in Barbados where the turf provided a lot of bounce to the faster bowlers, Australian and West Indian pacers took advantage of India’s weakness and greeted them with a barrage of short balls. The ill-equipped Indian batsmen found the going tough, which paved way for their ignominious exit from the prestigious event. That the star Indian batsmen don’t learn their lessons was evident from the fact that last year, too, this ghost of short-pitched bowling had severely haunted them at the same event.

Flawed Captaincy: We have celebrated MS Dhoni’s captaincy from the time he took over the rein of Indian cricket three years ago. But the time has really come to scrutinize Dhoni as a leader after India’s disappointing performances in the important tournaments in recent times, especially in the ICC events like T20 World Cups and Champions Trophy. There is no denying the fact that under his leadership India touched the zenith in Test cricket, but his tactical nuances found wanting in the shorter versions of the game for India.

T20 World Cup in West Indies, where India failed to win even a single match in the Super Eight stage was the worst performance by captain Dhoni. Most of Dhoni’s decisions regarding the composition of final XI, choosing batting-order and the change of bowling at crucial stages backfired. His decision to go in with only two fast men at the bouncy Barbados track was puzzling; the decision to persist with out-of-form Ravindra Jadeja was baffling. He also failed to get the best out of Yusuf Pathan like what Shane Warne did in the Indian Premier League.

Insipid Bowling and Fielding: India have never been a team who could boast of their bowling and fielding. But never in their recent history have they performed so badly in these two important aspects. It’s an event which India’s pace and spin spearheads- Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh - would want to forget as soon as possible. While Zaheer could manage only two wickets in the entire tourney, Harbhajan went wicketless, a ‘feat’ he achieved for the first time in his illustrious career. When two of your best bowlers performed so miserably, winning a tournament like the World Cup would be a far fetched dream.

When modern-day cricket is being run by the dictum, ‘a run saved is a run scored’, our fielding has a ‘charm’ of old-day leisurely attitude. We drop catches like amateurs, we allow opponents to take three runs when it should have been just two. When cricketers in other nations get sharper day by day, our very own Yuvraj Singh becomes a liability in the field. With such fielding standards, India can never win a major tournament in the near future.

Attitude Problem: About six months back, the BCCI Chief Administrative Officer, Ratnakar Shetty said that a senior team member rang him after the Champions Trophy to complain that the younger players seemed hardly concerned at their exit.

If such is the case, we as a cricketing nation, are doomed to fail in many more such tournaments in the coming days. The IPL has brought so much money and fame that the younger generation, which has been our backbone for many years, is hardly concerned at India’s shameful exit at the elite events. This is shocking as playing for India is not about the money; it’s about the sentiments, the pride of representing the millions, the charm of bringing glory to the nation. If these sentiments can’t inspire anybody, God help Indian Cricket!

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